Is this list copyrighted?

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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keith_12345
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Is this list copyrighted?

Post by keith_12345 » Fri Jan 13, 2017 6:02 pm

https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... -directory
Is this list copyrighted? If I sent the same FOI request to all of the trusts would I be infringing copyright? If I reused the obtained information with permission online, or generalised and say, for example, "8 trusts see increase in referrals" and then listed the 8 trusts, would I be infringing copyright?
Last edited by keith_12345 on Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri Jan 13, 2017 11:17 pm

Hi Keith,

If you scroll down to the bottom of the document to which you linked, you will see that it is marked as being covered by Crown Copyright, but is released under the Open Government Licence v3.0 which means it can be freely used for commercial and non-commercial purposes, with the main stipulation being that any part which is used should be accompanied by an attribution statement stating the source.

However since it appears that you mainly wish to use the list as a source of names and addresses in order to send out FOI requests, those parts are all 'facts', which are not subject to copyright and so you don't need to provide an attribution. The same would apply to using the list on a website but I would expect that in order to give your posting additional authenticity it would be helpful to quote the source of your list, although any specific results obtained from the individual addressees might need crediting to those particular organisations, depending on the contents of their replies. Mere statistics are also likely to be facts and so not covered by copyright, but statements or opinions may well be covered*.

Once you have collated all the replies it is likely that you will have created a database which will itself be covered by a form of copyright known as database right, and you would own this right, irrespective of the fact that much of the actual content may either be covered by other people's copyright, or not subject to copyright in the first place.

* generally speaking where FOI are concerned, government departments etc generally release information under the assumption that it may be published and so they will usually highlight any aspects of their replies which should be treated with special caution. For example, say a request resulted in the release of letters received by an NHS trust, it would be made clear that the copyright in the letters was vested in the writers, and that the Trust had no power to authorise publication. However from what you have written it does not sound as if that is the sort of replies you would be seeking.
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keith_12345
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Post by keith_12345 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:07 am

What if I sent the same FOI request to only the trusts that provide a particular service, and not all of them? What should I do?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:38 am

Hi keith

I'm not really clear about what you are asking. As already mentioned there are no copyright restrictions on using the data in that page, or indeed most data on government websites which has been released under the OGL. Therefore it makes no difference whether you contact all the Trusts or just a chosen selection. If there are any copyright implications in the replies you receive that should be pointed out to you by the Trust concerned.
I would expect most if not all of the Trusts will have a specific menu item on each of their websites to enable an FOI request to be made, for example this one for the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. You should check the publication scheme for any Trust you are interested in, before sending an FOI request in case the information you want is already available online.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

keith_12345
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Post by keith_12345 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:57 am

If I chose public bodies to send FOI requests to, or chose public bodies to quote material from their websites, under the Open Government License, would I be infringing copyright on the collection of all the public bodies that exist, by choosing some public bodies to send FOI requests to from the collection?
If I sent a request or requests to, or chose to use material under the Open Government License from the websites of, all the foundation trusts on the list, or selected ones, would I be infringing copyright on the list because I'm using facts, because it's free to use with an attribution, or because it's a non-creative list and is not original enough to be copyrighted?

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Post by AndyJ » Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:21 pm

Hi keith,

I think you are making this unnecessarily complicated for yourself. If Crown copyright material has been released under an OGL then pretty much any use of that material is permitted. You are free to select whatever to use or not use, and to adapt it as necessary. If you are not sure if a particular piece of information is a 'fact' and therefore technically copyright won't apply to it, then it is probably best to provide an attribution. Where you are quoting or using a collection of data from different (but still Crown copyright protected) sources, you would be fairly safe if you use a general attribution, eg "based on data/information provided by the respective NHS Trusts listed above" or as suggested on the National Archives site, use this generic attribution "Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0". It is highly unlikely that the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office will come after you if you neglect to provide an attribution. As mentioned previously, I suggest that one of the reasons for providing an attribution is to give your website or chosen means of publication greater credibility, since anyone would then be able to double check your statements/data against the official record (perhaps an important factor in these days of fake news!)

It is highly likely that any replies to your FOI requests will come with specific notices concerning copyright if this is thought to be an issue; if no such guidance is sent, you can assume that at the very least the information has been released under an OGL.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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